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Friday, March 8, 2019

Exciting news for NW actors on International Women’s Day

by ranielle

In honor of International Women’s Day, Cast Iron Studios is excited to share some great news for Northwest actors!

Cast Iron Studios Incorporates Inclusion Rider

From its yearly Talent Diversity Initiative, to its participation in nationwide casting calls for transgender actors and performers with disabilities, to its commitment to always questioning the way roles are written—in order to create more opportunities for women, LGBTQ performers and others—Cast Iron Studios has long been an advocate for underrepresented performers.

Now, inspired by the work of the Annenberg Institute, Cast Iron Studios is working on incorporating an inclusion rider into its casting deals. “The idea is to challenge ourselves,” said President and Founder Lana Veenker, “as well as the production companies we enter into contract with, to more affirmatively seek opportunities for actors who have been historically underutilized.” 

This inclusion rider will serve as a benchmark for all future projects; celebrating and ensuring the widest possible range of equity, diversity and inclusion. Based in part on the Annenberg Institute’s open-source template, Cast Iron Studios’ rider will also invite clients to make an optional financial contribution towards the Talent Diversity Initiative (TDI), which provides high-quality, intensive actor training to performers of color (and potentially, in the future, to other underrepresented groups) at no cost to the actors.

The goal of the TDI is to create a larger pool of qualified diverse talent for productions to choose from when shooting in the Northwest by removing the financial barrier to high-quality training, opening doors to networking opportunities in the local film and television community, and funneling participants towards bona fide acting coaches, talent agents, managers and casting companies. 

“Graduates frequently go on to book roles in local productions,” said Veenker,” reducing the need for our clients to hire outside of market. By including this provision in our rider, we’re asking clients to not only hire more underrepresented artists today, but to help us build the talent pool of tomorrow; one that more accurately reflects the demographics of the world we live in.”

Roles for Women Hired Locally Increase by 20%

We’re also very happy to report that a recent snapshot of the stats for roles for women cast out of Cast Iron Studios shows an increase in roughly 20% over the past couple of years—and we’re determined and passionate about keeping this momentum going in all areas.

However, there’s still plenty of work to be done, as the stats for women across the board in Film/TV are still pretty dire, both in front of and behind the camera.

According to a recent study by The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, male leads vastly outnumber female leads—71.3% compared to 28.8%—over a ten year span. This means that men’s stories were featured twice as often as women’s stories.

Behind the camera, according to a survey released by the Center for the Study of Women in TV/Film at San Diego State University, “The Celluloid Ceiling” by Martha M. Lauzen, Ph.D., women made up only 20% of all the directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers who worked on the top 250 films in the last year.

In the words of Geena Davis:

“How do we encourage a lot more girls to inspire to lead? By casting droves of women in STEM, politics, law and other professions today in movies.” 

For women, performers of color, LGBTQIA+ performers, and performers with disabilities, here’s to (cast) ironing out the gaps!

Happy International Women’s Day!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

USA Today looks at diversity in Hollywood

by Georgia Luke

In February, USA Today’s Maria Puente reached out to Lana Veenker, among others, on the subject of diversity in the entertainment industry. Check out the state of affairs:

No A’s for effort on H’wood’s diversity report card

It’s too late for 2015 — we already know that all the Academy Awards for acting are going to a white person. But what about next year — will Hollywood’s slate of 2016 movies result in the third year in a row of #OscarsSoWhite?

With what we know so far, it doesn’t look good, according to USA TODAY’s diversity report card.

There will almost certainly be last-minute changes or delays, or movies that get picked up later in the year at film festivals such as Cannes and Toronto. Who knows if a Precious or a Beasts of No Nation will suddenly appear and acquire all-important Oscar buzz? The picture can and likely will shift somewhat.

But for now, looking at the 184 movies officially announced for release this year by 14 studios (each rolling out as many as 20 movies or as few as seven), the Academy Awards next year may be just as pale and male as this year.

Our analysis doesn’t assess the Oscar viability of 2016’s forthcoming movies. But it shows a discernible lack of minority and female faces in major roles and among the directors of the films being released between January and December 2016. In fact, there’s a striking number of movies in which there are only white faces.

No one makes the grade

In USA TODAY’s report card for the coming year in the film industry, almost every studio deserves reprimand. But since we’re grading on a curve, we’ve given credit to studios trying hard for a C, and four studios earned the highest grade of B.

  • Of the studios with more than 12 movies, Sony rated the highest, with a slate of 17 new movies that tallied to a final grade of B.
  • Paramount had the lowest grade, receiving an F for 14 movies.
  • Of the studios with 12 or fewer movies, Sony Pictures Classics, STX (each with nine movies) and Weinstein (12) earned a B.
  • The lowest grade among these studios went to Open Road, which received a D-  for seven movies.

“Hollywood has been whitewashed, in front of the cameras and behind, from casting to writing to producers to actors,” says Jeetendr Sehdev, a professor at the University of Southern California who has researched the challenges in improving diversity in the film industry.

It may not be deliberate but thoughtless, says Casting Director Lana Veenker of Cast Iron Studios in Portland, Ore., who recently cast supporting roles in Reese Witherspoon’s Oscar-nominated Wild and also casts for TV shows such as NBC’s Grimm, CW’s Significant Mother and TNT’s The Librarians.

“The huge majority of roles I get asked to cast are for men, and when we have conversations with directors or producers, I always ask them, ‘Couldn’t this role be played by a woman?'” she says. “And when it’s brought to their attention, they often respond, ‘Oh, yeah, why didn’t we think of that?'”

Full Story and Video

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Oregon Commission for Women: GAPS Conference follow-up

by admin

A follow-up on Saturday’s GAPS Conference at Portland State University is posted on Kim Kasch’s blog.

On the “Women and the Film Industry” panel were Lourri Hammack and Jan Johnson of LAIKA/house, Ellen Bergstone Beer of Women’s Film Initiative and Film Action Oregon, and Lana Veenker of Lana Veenker Casting.

Read all about it:

Friday, March 6, 2009

Women & the Film Industry in Oregon

by admin

Lana will be speaking on a panel this Saturday, March 7th at PSU from 1:00 to 2:00 PM on the topic of Women and the Film Industry in Oregon, as part of the 2009 GAPS Conference, sponsored by the Oregon Commission for Women.

Admission is free and open to the public.

Also on the panel:

2009 GAPS Conference
Panel Discussion: Women & the Film Industry in Oregon
Saturday, March 7th, 2009 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Portland State University
Smith Memorial Hall Ballroom
1825 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97201

Media Advisory and Conference Agenda below:

Hope to see you there!